The Ritz, an 18+ bar and 2-floor dance club, opened at 1012 Sumner Court in 1984. Ritz owner Al Spencer fully renovated the building formerly inhabited by Berlin. Inside the renovated club, a “bridge across a staircase” connected two bars suspended above a large dancefloor. Newly-installed “glass walls” and “the largest silver ball hanging from the ceiling of any in the area” further amplified The Ritz’ extravagant new look. The Ritz quickly gained notoriety for hosting extravagant themed parties. For one circus-themed event, Spencer “brought in acts from France for a circus in our big parking lot, with elephants and merry-go-rounds.” After being refused entry by the club’s bouncers between 1984-1985, several African American LGBT+ clubgoers filed complaints with the Midwest Regional Discrimination Response System (DRS) regarding racial discrimination at The Ritz. In 1985, the Midwest DRS filed a lawsuit against the Ritz for systemically racially discriminating against black gay and lesbian patrons. The suit, however, remained unsettled in 1986. Nevertheless, The Ritz remained a popular LGBT+ nightclub staple throughout the mid-to-late 1980s. In 1989, The Ritz became first local gay bar to offer women-only “lesbian nights” on Thursday evenings. To attract African American clubgoers, The Ritz hosted “black nights” on Friday and Saturday evenings. Sundays evenings at The Ritz, however, “[attracted] mostly gay men.” Rage, a “weekly alternative music club,” later opened at 1012 Sumner Court alongside The Ritz in 1987. To the shock of many clubgoers, The Ritz closed without advanced notice in early 1990.

Additional information coming soon.


  • “All the Rage.” Plain Dealer. April 24, 1987.
  • Brunstedt, Mike. The Cleveland Flats.
  • Callender, Charles. “Six Sue Ritz for Discrimination.” Gay People’s Chronicle. July 1985. Page 1, 3.
  • “Correction.” Gay People’s Chronicle. April 1986. Page 1.
  • Forbes, Dora. “Ritz Suit Settled.” Gay People’s Chronicle. October 1985. Page 1.
  • “Gay Ohio: Cleveland.” The Guide. October 1989. Page 34.
  • Hill, Edward. “From Hank’s to Club Coconuts: The Good, Bad, and Boring.” Plain Dealer. August 11, 1989.
  • Hurt, Stephen. “Businesses, Bars Help Dancin’.” Gay People’s Chronicle. September 1989. Page 8.
  • “Mike Brunstedt Interview, 12 July 2023.” Cleveland Voices.
  • Negron, Sidney. “Gay Bars in Cleveland.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  • “New Club in Town.” Plain Dealer. May 11, 1984.
  • Pugh, John K. “Ritz Was Wrong Place.” Gay People’s Chronicle. July 1989. Page 4.
  • “Remembering the Ritz.” Plain Dealer. February 23, 1990.
  • Scott, Jane. “Ritz Runs Out of Steam.” Plain Dealer. January 26, 1990.
1012 Sumner Court, Cleveland, OH 44115 (The Ritz).

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